After you share the good news with your friends and family, you’re bound to start getting the question: “Do you know what you’re having?”
These days, a simple blood test can tell you the sex of your baby as early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy. And even if you wait a bit longer, you can find out sometime around week 20 with your anatomy ultrasound.
Regardless, you may still enjoy a little fun and games with guessing. People have been attempting to predict the sex of their babies for centuries using popular myths and urban legends. Do these tales have any bearing in science? Let’s take a closer look!
Before the time of writing or print, people shared stories in what’s called the oral tradition.
Tales about anything from pregnancy to child-rearing to illness and beyond were shared as a way for people to impart wisdom. In some cases, these tales helped give people a feeling of control in situations where they felt otherwise powerless.
Pregnancy myths originated from all over the world and have been passed down from generation to generation. And you’ve likely heard many throughout your lifetime (whether you realize it or not).
Yes — these tales are still around today, despite scientific evidence dispelling many of their messages.
Truth time: While some people swear by so-called “old wives’ tales” for “gender prediction” — both of these terms are outdated, by the way — you have around a 50/50 chance of guessing your baby’s sex correctly no matter what method you use. That’s because the ratio of boys to girls born across the globe is 107:100.
Related: Signs you’re having a baby boy
One of the more popular myths surrounds baby’s heart rate in the womb. As the story goes, if it’s over 140 beats per minute (BPM), you’re having a girl. If it’s slower than 140 BPM, you’re having a boy.
Verdict: A 2006 study showed that there’s no significant difference between the heart rate of female and male babies in the first trimester.
More specifically, heart rate was measured for both sexes at approximately 9 weeks. Male babies had heart rates averaging at 154.9 BPM. Females had heart rates averaging at 151.7 BPM. And what’s particularly important is that there was a plus or minus range with both males and females that was just under 23 BPM.
Is your bump sitting up high near your rib rage? You might be having a girl. If your belly hangs down low, you might be having a boy.
Verdict: Unfortunately, how you carry your pregnancy has nothing to do with the sex of your baby. It’s more about things like:
- how many pregnancies you have had
- your height, weight, and age
- your muscle tone
Does your belly stick out straight like a torpedo? Some may say you’re sure to have a baby girl. If you’re looking thicker around the edges or carrying wide, you may have a baby boy in there.
Verdict: Again, your belly’s shape has more to do with your body type and shape pre-pregnancy than it does with your baby’s sex. People who have short torsos may tend to see their bump stick out because there’s nowhere else for baby to go. And if your bump is wide-set, it might just mean your baby is lying sideways in there.
You may notice as the weeks tick on that you absolutely must have certain foods — like, now! Yes, those are your pregnancy cravings. Can’t get enough of the sweet stuff? You might be having a girl. If salty snacks are what you’re always after, you might be having a boy.
Verdict: Research hasn’t determined if there’s a link to food cravings and the sex of a child. There are have several hypotheses about cravings, however. They include that cravings may
- be in response to hormonal changes
- address nutritional deficiencies
- be due to certain compounds in foods
Scientists also note that cravings tend to be different depending on where you live in the world, so there are cultural factors at play as well.
Maybe food is the last thing on your mind these days. One of the earliest signs of pregnancy is morning sickness, but not everyone will experience the nausea and vomiting. If you’re feeling quite ill, the tales say you’re having a girl. If you’re feeling fine, you may be having a boy.
Verdict: Morning sickness impacts the majority of pregnancies to some degree. What’s interesting is that very recent research shows there may be something to this tale.
Using an international web-based survey, scientists collected self-reported data regarding morning sickness and the sex of the baby. Those carrying girls tended to report “significantly” higher levels of sickness in the first trimester.
More research is needed to establish exactly why the two things are linked.
More severe morning sickness may also mean you’re carrying twins or higher-order multiples. This may be because of an additional dose of hormones circulating the body when carrying more than one baby.
You may have heard that lots of heartburn during pregnancy may indicate your little one has a full head of hair. Well, it may also mean you’re having a girl, or so the legends say.
Verdict: Heartburn is a relatively common pregnancy symptom, especially in the weeks leading up to delivery.
Baby girls supposedly “steal their mothers’ beauty.” Baby boys, on the other hand, may give you the best skin you’ve seen in ages. Yes, that’s the pregnancy glow you hear all about.
Verdict: There doesn’t appear to be research on this matter. Anecdotal evidence online isn’t much help either. Some people reported better skin when pregnant with boys. Others said the same of their pregnancies with girls. And the opposite also rang true for others.
Related: Pregnancy glow: Why it happens
Along the same lines, if your hair and nails are thin and brittle, a girl may be to blame. But if you have luscious locks and long nails you may soon have a baby boy in your arms.
Verdict: Hormone levels during pregnancy don’t differ enough between people carrying girls and boys to make a difference in your appearance. The condition of your hair, skin, and nails may be influenced by the hormones circulating your system, but it also has to do with other factors, like your age.
Are your breasts fuller? It’s one of the more universal early pregnancy signs, that’s for sure. But if your breasts seem particularly large, it’s possible you may be having a boy.
You may have noticed that your breasts are more tender during pregnancy. Your nipples and area surrounding them (areola) may also appear larger. But darker than usual nipples may mean you’re having a boy, according to some.
Verdict: This is false. During pregnancy, the placenta secretes hormones that regulate skin pigmentation. You may notice that anything from your nipples to your birthmarks, moles, or beauty marks all look darker with the extra dose of melanin.
You may see a line over your bump that extends to your pubic area. Don’t fret. This new mark is called the linea nigra, and it usually fades after delivery.
The myth: If it extends from below the belly button down, you may be having a girl. If it extends all the way from below your rib cage down, you may be having a boy.
Verdict: Many people have a linea nigra during pregnancy. And — spoiler alert — the length of the line doesn’t seem to correlate with a baby’s sex. Instead, its presence goes back to the extra pigment going through your body from hormones.
Beyond physical signs, some sex prediction theories expand to various tests. With the ring test, you tie your wedding ring to a string and hold it over your belly. If it swings from side to side in a line, you’re having a girl. If it spins around in a circle, on the other hand, you’re having a boy.
Verdict: There’s not really any info you can find on why this test would work. And if you read anecdotal accounts, some have heard the folklore is the opposite (circle for girl, line for boy). Some swear it works. Others say it was incorrect.
No matter how you slice it, you have about a 50/50 chance of it being right or wrong.
Ah, the Drano test. For this one, you’ll need a sample of your urine to mix together with — you guessed it — liquid Drano. If the liquid turns green, you’re having a girl. Blue, you’re having a boy. Note: Use caution if you decide to try this test in your own home.
Verdict: You might be surprised to hear that scientists took this one on decades ago! A
Unfortunately, the women’s results were not consistent, and many would have one color one month and another color the next.
Similar test, but possibly a bit safer to perform. This time, you’ll want to pee in a cup and then pour it into another cup that has some baking soda inside of it. If you hear/see a fizz, you’re having a boy. If nothing much happens, you’re having a girl.
Verdict: Again, this test isn’t a reliable indicator of your baby’s sex. The baking soda is reacting with the pH of your urine, which can change by the day depending on what you’re had to eat or drink, whether or not you’re dehydrated, or possibly if you have a urinary tract infection.
Has your significant other packed on some pounds along with you? One theory says this may mean that you’re having a baby girl.
Verdict: Logically, it really doesn’t make much sense that your partner’s weight would have any bearing on the sex of your baby.
- gain weight
- have morning sickness
- deal with mood swings
- have back pain
The cause of this syndrome needs further study.
It’s fun to test pregnancy myths. After all, some of them may even hold some truth. Just don’t have your heart set on what they tell you to expect.
The most accurate way to find out your baby’s sex is through medical testing, like fetal ultrasound or a cell-free DNA blood screen. Your doctor can give you more information about these tests, when they’re usually performed, and anything else you might want to know about your bundle of joy.